GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As restrictions lift across the state, more students are preparing to head back to class in the fall.
As we get closer to Father’s Day, some dads are worried that time away from their kids will hurt their relationships.
“They are a little nervous about going back to school, sending their student back to school,” said Victoria Wilson, ninth-grade advisor at Lighthouse Connections Academy in Troy.
The tuition-free, online public school recently polled a thousand dads in America and found 73% of them were concerned that going back to normal will impact their involvement with their children’s education.
“Here at Connections Academy, we’re able to really align them with each other parent, or learning coach as we call them, with the student where you don’t have that in a traditional brick-and-mortar,” said Wilson.
At Connections Academy, students progress in their learning with the help of their learning coach, their parent, really engaging with them.
“That means we’re having conversations at the dinner table, where Dad is kinda over the shoulder of the laptop like, ‘Hey, what are you doing? What’s going on? Are you in your live lesson?,’ which is the class—and that really does help the child/parent relationship,” she said.
Research shows that Dad is an important aspect of a child’s life, especially when they’re young. That interaction and connection is crucial on so many levels.
“That’s important for their education; that’s important for their mentality, their growth as an individual to have that father available to them on that level that they can in virtual school,” Wilson said.
She and her husband have five kids, and they too learn virtually and are always gathered around the dining room table.
She tells FOX 17 that makes the connection to their children that much more involved.
“We’re able to know who their friends are—usually because they’re on a screen with us,” said Wilson. “We’re able to know what their teachers are teaching them and then take the baton, so to speak, and run with that.”
The school’s survey also showed that more fathers felt closer in their relationships and marriages because they were so engaged.
Even if your child is heading back to a traditional school in the fall, Wilson offers this advice:
“Don’t give up, keep pressing forward, keep engaging—ask those questions—‘How was your day?’ I would even ask for three specifics—‘Give me three high points of your day—give me three low points of your day, and let’s walk through that together; let’s talk about it.’”
She says it’s important for fathers to share their days as well, like what happened at work to connect with their kids even more.